Alta. Angus ranch receives honour

Certified Angus Beef has turned into a North American program that recognizes the contributions of producers everywhere.

This year Belvin Angus, owned by Gavin and Mabel Hamilton, was recognized for its 40-year contribution to the breed and promotion of quality beef. The couple bought their original farm in central Alberta in 1978 and registered their first Angus heifers in 1979.

“They were really interested in the transitional thing and the fact that Gavin was raised with purebred Shorthorns and I was raised with purebred Herefords. We came together with Angus,” Mabel Hamilton said.

Their son, Colton, daughter Quinn and her husband, Brendyn Elliot, are part of the business, which received the Certified Angus Beef Canadian Commitment to Excellence award earlier this year. This is the second year Canadians have been honoured.

Hamilton credits her ability to communicate about beef to her days as chair of the Beef Information Centre, which is now part of Canada Beef Inc. She is also a past president of the Canadian Angus Association.

The family is interested in the entire beef chain.

For 15 years they have hosted restaurant chefs and owners at their ranch near Bowden, Alta., to see where it all starts on a seedstock operation.

As a result, Colton, wearing his best cowboy hat, is invited to restaurants in Calgary to talk with staff about what happens on the ranch and how the beef arrives on their plates. He talks about best practices on the ranch, environmental care and sustainability.

“It is an experience for us, too. We forget people don’t understand,” she said.

Representatives from the Certified Angus Beef organization have also visited.

The ranch is registered under the Verified Beef Producers Plus program, and they collect expected progeny differences on their cattle. They also do genomic testing because all this evidence adds value to their cattle.

In addition, the Canadian Food Network did a special on certified Angus beef.

The Certified Angus Beef program started in 1978 and has reported record sales for the last 13 years.

The organization sets out 10 specifications for cattle to qualify for the brand, and 35 percent of Angus-type cattle now make the grade. More than 5.6 million carcasses were accepted in the last reporting year.

The standards include a predominantly black coat, medium or fine marbling texture, 10 to 16 inch square rib eye, carcass weight less than 1,050 pounds, superior muscling and less than one inch of back fat.

A news release from the organization said there is a global network of 19,000 licensed processors, food service and retail partners selling the branded product.

More than 40 percent of Certified Angus Beef is sold at retail and last year a record 537.5 million lb. were sold in grocery stores.

Food service had an increase of nearly five percent in sales.

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